The Keystone of Our Faith
Reprinted from The Pilgrim.
If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).
The Doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a trivial and inconsequential appendage to Christianity, to be accepted or rejected at will. It is an integral part of the Christian faith. If Christ did not rise from the dead, Christianity is established upon a tissue of lies and bound up in cunningly devised fables, and our hope is no more than a fabric of dreams which will end forever at death.
1. The fact of Christ’s resurrection. Certain laws of evidence are required to establish any historical fact. Vital among them are these two: (a) there must be documentation of the event, made by reliable witnesses: and (b) there should be some memorial in existence, begun somewhere near the time of the incident under scrutiny and commemorated regularly thereafter. For example, how do we know that George Washington lived and that he was the first president of the United States? Literature about him, some of it contemporaneous with his era, is abundant. There are likenesses of him in marble and on canvas, and every year the date of his birth is celebrated in America.
Concerning the resurrection of Christ, there were six contemporaries of our Lord in His earthly life who attested to His resurrection, men of reliability who were either eyewitnesses of or closely associated with the events they recorded: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, and Paul. All of them declared without equivocation that Jesus Christ arose (Mt. 28; Mk. 16; Lk. 24; Jn. 20; 1 Pet. 1; and 1 Cor. 15). It was not the spirit of Christ that these men saw and heard and touched, but Jesus Christ Himself. His resurrection altered their lives.
As to memorials of the resurrection of our Lord, two are universal: (a) the Church itself, and (b) the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, as the day of worship in contrast with the Sabbath, which is Saturday, the seventh day.
2. The necessity of Christ’s resurrection. Here are just three reasons why our Lord’s bodily resurrection was necessary: (a) as proof to mankind of His Person, for by His resurrection He was declared to be the Son of God (Rom. 1:4); (b) since He is the Son of God with all power, it was not possible that death should bind and retain Him (Acts 2:24); and (c) to establish that the Bible, God’s written Word, and Jesus Christ’s witness concerning Himself, are trustworthy.
The Christian faith is grounded upon a fact that is incontrovertibly established. Hallelujah! Christ arose!